Warburton’s Maryland – finished!

Finishing a model is not at all a frequent occurrence, and the completion of this one is particularly sweet. This is the somewhat famous Azur 1:72 Martin 167 Maryland, finished in the colors of Adrian Warburton’s machine on Malta in1940.

The plane, Maryland 114, has a very colorful history. It was one of the aircraft delivered before the fall of France and had operated briefly against the Germans. Once the Germans had prevailed, it was given to the Vichy French and operated briefly with GR I/22, reconnaissance unit in the south of France. Then, a French crew defected to Gibraltar with the machine. It was hurriedly supplied to 69 Squadron, and Warburton used it to map the entire coastline from Tripoli to Benghazi in a single sortie. It was also used in a mission where Warburton spotted an Italian airfield and strafed it, destroying three SM.79s.

 He also flew the Maryland on the pre-strike scouting mission to Taranto, where he made two low passes: one to photograph the ships there, and a second to dictate the names of the ships so the crew could write them down! After the war moved past Malta, Warburton eventually was posted back to the U.K. and in 1944, disappeared while flying an F-5 Lightning. The wreckage of the plane and Warburton’s remains were only discovered in 2002 – just after I started the model.

 The kit itself is just okay. There are some major shortcomings – the side windows are molded as part of the fuselage, the landing lights are solid on the wings, and worst off the scoops on the fronts on the nacelles are blocked off, and not particularly deep. I had to carve all these things open, for starters. I’d love to write an article on this, but the construction was spread over so many years that the photos of construction are scattered all over the place – on computer hard drives that no longer work, on chemical photographic prints and all over the place. That’ll make a really good article difficult.

 But the model came out pretty well. All the extra work is hardly visible, but I know it’s there, and that’s what matters. It’s been a long journey to this point, but it’s been worth it.

Maryland: one good break, one bad one

Last Friday, the incomplete Maryland actually won the Model of the Month award at the Silicon Valley Scale Modelers meeting, which I thought was a real honor. The plane still needs the canopy, gear doors, bombardier’s hatches, machine gun, DF loop, landing lights and so on. I thought I might have a chance next month, but certainly not this month!

Then, on Sunday, my wife broke the model.

It wasn’t terminal . One of the gear struts broke off at the mounting point; it sheared the original plastic pin I’d added, but came off otherwise totally intact. All I had to do was drill the strut and add a new pin – this time a length of paperclip – and drill a corresponding hole in the wheel well. The Azure kit’s landing gear attachment points are a joke – they look like ejector pin marks more than a place to glue any parts – so the repaired strut is now much stronger than it was before.

How did it get broken? Totally innocently. Elizabeth moved the model in its box from her desk to mine and it slipped off its protective cradle, landing one wing low and snapping its gear. It’s actually a nice reminder that I should build a custom box with form-fitting foam cradles before I try to transport it – like to the nationals!

Mitigating Maryland mistakes

Oh, my golly. The Maryland is now on final approach to completion, and I’m starting to get really nervous. The closer it gets to completion, the more goofy little things that threaten to de-rail me. Before I start to lay out my tale of terror, let me show you what I’m talking about. Here’s the Maryland, with the dullcoating and wash, and all the masking removed from the clear parts and engines:

Looks good, right? Well, here’s how it could have gone wrong.

After I dullcoated the model, I took off the masking. The small windows on the sides concerned me, and I even scored around them with an X-Acto to prevent the masking from lifting the white stripe decal. Guess what? The masking lifted the white stripe decal – it ripped a quarter-inch of the decal clean away. I have come far enough not to have started crying or hurl the model across the room – instead, I set the model down, took a break, and then came back with purpose and masked and painted the damaged area of the white stripe with Humbrol matt white shot through my Paasche VL. Problem fixed.

Okay, on to the rest of the clear parts. The ventral window was shockingly mistake-free, as was the windscreen. The glass nose had me concerned, though, and, as it turned out, I had reason for concern. Much to my amusement, there were a couple of frames that I forgot to expose when I masked the nose. Again, I didn’t get upset – I just masked those individual frames and painted them. No problem.

Once I get the frames squared away, I’m going to put the aircraft on its landing gear, which will be a big step toward completion. Then, I have to make the canopy, the hatches for the bombardier’s position, and add other bits. The wing lights will be fun – I have to find four fairly small MV lenses for this area, and I’ll probably cover them with some kind of transparent tape.

I’m learning a lot on this build – mostly, that nothing that goes amiss is really un-fixable. That’s a good lesson for a modeler to learn.

Markings on the Maryland!

While watching the debate over the health care bill last night (yeah, I’m that kind of news junkie), I applied the decals to my Martin Maryland. On Friday night, Mark Schynert and I discussed just when a model transforms from a chunk of plastic shaped like a plane into a representation of a real plane. Mark said it was when the propellers went on (not that he thinks jet models never look real – he just rarely builds ’em!). I said it’s when the decals go on. Here, Mr. Schynert, is exhibit A:

These decals came from a lot of sources, but the most important source was Norm Filer. Norm made the “2,” the white bar and the devil logo on the tail from the profile in the AJ Press book on the Maryland. (The breaks in the white bar are where the windows are – windows I cut from the solid fuselage and added about eight years ago when this all started.) The other decals came from various RAF sheets, and the roundels, amazingly enough, came from the kit sheet. It’s now ready for a wash, followed by the flatcoat and some weathering.

Now that the markings are on… the Maryland IS a good looking plane!

Masking a Maryland

It has been a while since I worked on my Martin Maryland – since August, to be exact. That was when Norm Filer delivered a set of custom-made decals for my model, an act which I have no means to repay (other than the usual resin items!). My delaying has resulted in the news that Special Hobby plans to put out an “Adrian Warburton Edition” of the kit with the same markings Norm made for me, so I need to get cracking. (You can all thank me for that – clearly my model karma made Special Hobby do this famous Maltese Maryland.)

Before applying the decals, however, I’m tightening up the camouflage. My friend Ben Pada, the last time he saw the model, asked in his familiarly brutal Hawaiian-accented way, “you gonna clean up the camouflage, right?” At the time, I wasn’t, but Ben convinced me that I should. The feathered edges were just not sharp enough, so I went and masked the French khaki and French chestnut brown areas – leaving the oversprayed areas un-masked – and feathered on some French dark blue gray. When the masks were removed, those spray lines were indeed tightened, with a hint of a feathered edge. Pretty convincing – although I have a few spots to touch up, and I have to get the lower surfaces’ camouflage lines masked and resprayed yet, too.

Then, I’ll gloss the model and decal it and get into overdrive toward completion. The props, wheels and turret are done; I’ll need to make up the bombardier’s upper and lower clamshell doors and the pilot’s canopy, and I desperately need to address the wing leading edge lights, but that will come later. This will also be a fairly heavily weathered machine, so some silver pencils and pastels will come into use.

The landing gear struts were almost comically simple in real life, so they’ll just need some clean up and some simple brake lines. I also have to add the observer’s seat belts. I keep forgetting to do this; now, it’s going to be like a game of Operation fitting the belts to the seat. Just another minor issue to contend with.

I’m still not used to the French camouflage – but this is the first French camouflage-clad plane I’ve ever built. When the markings are on, I’ll be more comfortable with it.

Hopefully, I can get the model decaled by the end of day, Saturday. If I do that, it’ll be nothing but finishing work until the Maryland is done.

From not enough time to too much

I had some rough news last week – I was laid off. It’s a bummer for many reasons, including the obvious financial reasons, but also because I was very proud of what I’d built at Inside CRM. My departure probably means the company will let it lay dormant and go extinct.

So, while hunting for a new job, I have time on my hands to fill. How much? Today I packed up dozens of Obscureco parts into their little bags and boxes. This is work I used to dump on my nieces when they would visit from Egypt. Yes. I was importing foreign child labor. (Of course I was paying said labor ridiculously well, but the point was that I didn’t have to do it myself.) I received a box from Bill Ferrante filled with freshly-cast wings, and they’re all in their boxes – in fact, a bunch are on their way to Roll Models.

And I did get a little good news – Norm Filer has graciously done the markings I need for my Maryland, namely a stylized, drop-shadowed “2” and a distinctive devil-throwing-a-bomb logo for the tail. Mike Grant also quickly volunteered to help with this, which shows just how many wonderful people there are in the hobby of scale modeling.

Now, I could do something idiotic to get the Maryland into the nationals – gloss-coat it, throw on what decals I could, pack it and all the small parts, apply Norm’s decals in Columbus and then spray the model with canned dull coat, and finally stick on all the small bits. Voila! One certain to be cockeyed Maryland. Not going to do that. Instead, I started work in earnest on the master for a new Obscureco set, this one for the A-3 Skywarrior. I have the Rene Francillon book on the A-3, and the A-3 maintenance manual (with many, many revisions, showing what a plane goes through during a long life). Today, I made the first 1:72 toilet seat cover I’ve ever made (yes, there was a toilet in that small three-place cockpit), and I’ll be working on the rest of the cockpit before deciding how to handle the differences between the A-3B, KA-3B, EKA-3B and other variants. The control panels are really quite different on the co-pilot’s side, so I may make a two-part panel with optional right sides.

I’d also like to do A-3 wing with dropped leading-edge slats, but how I’d do that is difficult to say. It would be a huge part and it would drive poor Bill crazy casting them – plus, I’d have to get bigger boxes. While it’s a neat idea, I don’t know if it’s a practical one. Any input on whether I should give it a go? Let me know.

Martin Maryland in its warpaint…

This weekend I was able to paint my Azur Martin 167 Maryland. This was a momentous occasion – I’ve been working on this since it came out in 2002 (this I know only because Chris Banyai-Riepl wrote up this review on Internet Modeler  at the time). That makes seven years of toil and tears on this kit; when you get that kind of time invested, you want it to come out just right.

The model’s not just right yet – another round of touch-ups to the camouflage in all four colors is on the way – but it is looking a darn sight more finished right now. Here’s the state that the Maryland’s is in right now:

 

 

The changes that will be made are to add a wavy demarcation in green (actually, French Khaki) to the left nose, to touch up a patch on the left fuselage side in dark French blue gray, to touch up an area right below the wing trailing edge in light French blue gray, and to make the vertical fin chestnut brown instead of khaki. The rudder will be painted dark earth; my thoughts are that the defecting Maryland had its tricolor tail painted over in the closest match that the British had handy. The photos suggest that the plane did not have the yellow and red Vichy markings, but instead the more subtle white stripe down the side – that’ll be the next thing painted, using my favorite white enamel, Humbrol #34 matt white.

While I love that Humbrol color, the rest of the model is finished in Model Master enamels, sprayed freehand through a Paasche VL with a fine tip. I don’t have a regulator on my compressor, but I reduced the psi by partially unscrewing the air hose. (Did I tell you my real job is writing about technology? That’s why I use such stone-age techniques sometimes.) Thinned properly, the paint gave me a nice, fine spray pattern, although I had some coverage issues with the French Khaki at first.

The only screw up was that I started painting before I’d cleaned up the scoops at the tops of the engines! No problem – my pattern avoided them with the French Khaki and I was able to sand them up suitably before returning them to dark blue gray in the first touch-up round.

I’m really looking forward to getting this model glossed and decaled – It will certainly look different from anything on my model shelf. I’m also sneaking up on a British twin-engine bomber collection (Mosquito, Beaufighter, Maryland and… Hampden? Wellington? Ventura? Beaufort? Blenheim? Marauder? Mitchell? Havoc? Whitley? Manchester?). I only need five, so I’m getting in the ballpark.

Of course, at the pace I work, my fellow modelers will have time to get their entries ready to compete against me at the 2023 nationals. Start building!

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